A Baloch woman leader and rights activist has accused Pakistan of “genocide” in Balochistan and says India must support the “freedom movement” in the restive province for its own “strategic interests” as an “antidote for the Pakistan-China anti-India coalition”.
Naela Quadri, 50, said she was here to make a “conscience awakening call” to the government and people of India who helped liberate East Pakistan from Islamabad in 1971 to help it become an independent Bangladesh.
“It is not only for us. An independent Balochistan is the only antidote for Pakistan-China anti-India coalition,” Quadri, a Harvard graduate and a champion of Baloch rights, told IANS in an interview.
The Balochistan Independence Movement leader made a passionate plea to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to get involved in the “freedom movement” of the sprawling western region which borders Iran and Afghanistan.
“India has to take a stand, not only against gross human rights violations in the neighbourhood but also because its strategic interests are involved,” said Quadri, who also heads the World Baloch Women’s Forum and campaigns for Baloch people’s rights worldwide. She was once jailed in Pakistan.
Pakistan has been accusing India of stoking trouble in Balochistan, which is the size of France and is rich in gas, gold and copper reserves. It is also home to massive untapped sources of oil and uranium. Angry over Pakistan’s exploitation of the resources and alleged repressive rule, Balochis have so far launched five armed insurgencies since the territory, a princely state under the British, was annexed by Islamabad in 1948.
She accused Pakistan of resorting to “genocide” in Balochistan in response to the “political, democratic and secular” freedom struggle.
“They have killed some 200,000 Balochis in the last decade. The Pakistan Army has participated in enforced disappearance of 25,000 people including men and women,” she said.
“They are using all the eight UN indicators of genocide including dehumanization, polarization, extermination and denial.”
Recalling the May 28, 1998 Pakistan nuclear tests, Quadri said the army “illegally” used Balochistan for testing its atomic weapons that it got from China. “They have hid the weapons in Balochistan.
“The Balochs are facing all this in isolation and loneliness. No country has come to our help. Not India, so far.
“India is not what it was in 1971 (when Bangladesh was liberated). You had a strong headed and brave leader in Indira Gandhi. She was determined and had a tough foreign policy to deal with Pakistan.
“Unfortunately, the case is different now.”
She hoped that Prime Minister Modi would come off “as strong as Gandhi” to help Balochistan win its freedom.
“Modi has a popular mandate and I am sure Indian people would support the Balochistan initiative,” said Quadri, an activist since her childhood. (IANS)
(Sarwar Kashani can be contacted at email@example.com)
India has done well to stay ahead of the curve in the technological revolution
The sectoral change in productivity has been the highest in the telecommunications sector since the reforms of 1991
India has managed to provide the cheapest telephony services around the world
For the most part of human history, the change was glacial in pace. It was quite safe to assume that the world at the time of your death would look pretty much similar to the one at the time of your birth. That is no longer the case, and the pace of change seems to be growing exponentially. Futurist Ray Kurzweil put it succinctly when he wrote in 2001: “We won’t experience 100 years of progress in the 21st century – it will be more like 20,000 years of progress (at today’s rate).” Since the time of his writing, a lot has changed, especially with the advent of the internet.
India has done well to stay ahead of the curve in the technological revolution. The country’s hyper-competitive telecom sector has led the revolution from the front. In fact, according to Reserve Bank of India data, the sectoral change in productivity has been the highest in the telecommunications sector since the reforms of 1991, growing by over 10 percent. On the other hand, no other sector has had a productivity growth of above five percent during the same period. It is no wonder that it has also been one of the fastest-growing sectors of the Indian economy, growing at over seven percent in the last decade itself.
Such an unprecedented pace of growth has been brought about the precise levels of change that Kurzweil was so enthusiastic about. Today’s smartphones have the power of computers that took an entire room in the 1990s, and the telecom sector has had to keep up with a provision of commensurate internet speeds and services. Meanwhile, India has managed to provide the cheapest telephony services around the world, which has hit rock bottom after the entry of Reliance Jio. This has ensured access to those even at the bottom of the pyramid.
Even though consumers have come to be accustomed to fast-paced changes within the telecom sector, the entry of Jio altered the face of the industry like never before by changing the very basis of competition. Data became the focal point of competition for an industry that derived over 75 percent of its revenue from voice. It was quite obvious that there would be immediate economic effects due to it. Now that we’re nearing a year of Jio’s paid operations, during which time it has even become profitable, we saw it fit to quantify its socio-economic impact on the country. Three broad takeaways need to be highlighted.
First, the most evident effect has been the rise in affordability of calling and data services. Voice services have become practically costless while data prices have dropped from an average of Rs 152 per GB to lower than Rs 10 per GB. Such a drastic reduction in data prices has not only brought the internet within the reach of a larger proportion of the Indian population but has also allowed newer segments of society to use and experience it for the first time. Since the monthly saving of an average internet user came out to be Rs 142 per month (taking a conservative estimate that the consumer is still using 1 GB of data each month) and there are about 350 million mobile internet users in the country (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India data), the yearly financial savings for the entire country comes out to be Rs 60,000 crore.
To put things in perspective, this amount is more than four times the entire GDP of Bhutan. Therefore, mere savings by the consumer on data has been at astonishing proportions.
Now, this data has been used for services that have brought to life a thriving app economy within the country. So, the second level of impact has been in the redressal of a variety of consumer needs — ranging from education, health and entertainment to banking. For instance, students in remote areas can now access online courseware and small businesses can access newer markets. Information asymmetry has been considerably reduced.
Third, a rise in internet penetration has distinct positive effects on economic growth of a country. These effects arise not merely from the creation of an internet economy, but also due to the synergy effects it generates. Information becomes more accessible and communication a lot easier. Businesses find it easier to operate and access consumers. Labour working in cities has to make less frequent trips home and becomes more productive as a result. Education and health services become available in inaccessible locations. Multiple avenues open up for knowledge and skill enhancement.
An econometric analysis for the Indian economy showed that the 15 percent increase in internet penetration due to Jio and the spill-over effects it creates will raise the per capita levels of the country’s GDP by 5.85 percent, provided all else remains constant.
Thus, India’s telecom sector will continue to drive the economy forward, at least in the short run, and hopefully catapult India into 20,000 years of progress within this century, as Kurzweil postulated. The best approach for the state would be to ensure the environment of unfettered competition within the industry. Maybe other sectors of the economy ought to take a leaf out of the telecom growth story. The Indian banking sector comes to mind. However, that is a topic for another day. (IANS)
(Amit Kapoor is Chair, Institute for Competitiveness, India. He can be contacted at Amit. Kapoor@competitiveness.in and tweets @kautiliya. Chirag Yadav, a senior researcher at the institute, has contributed to the article.)